I am part of a multidisciplinary team of professionals who work on initiatives related to childhood adversity and health outcomes. We were disappointed to read the column written by John Rosemond titled “You can overcome a bad childhood” (Nov. 5 Tribune), which essentially told readers that toxic stressors in life are “excuses” for struggling in some way.
We would argue that Rosemond is unequivocally wrong in this assertion, and in fact, there is a wealth of research that would similarly dispute his opinions.
The landmark 1995 Adverse Childhood Experiences Study by Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda was the first to find that high levels of toxic stress in childhood are linked to chronic health conditions and even a reduced lifespan. Neurological, genomic and DNA level changes have been observed, all of which increase disease risk.
For Rosemond to say that these experiences are “excuses” and to encourage people to “think differently” to overcome them is overly simplistic, not representative of the current literature and is incredibly invalidating for people who have experienced adverse childhood experiences.
Rosemond is correct in his assertion that simply having these experiences does not automatically predispose someone to negative outcomes; however, individuals need to be aware of the myriad of changes at the biological level that can occur when experiencing toxic stress in childhood, and be counseled about how to cultivate resilience in the face of these experiences.